Tented rooms are a fascinating sub-genre of decorating, popular since at least the early 19th century, when Joséphine hired noted architects Charles Percier and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine to kit out Chateau de Malmaison, the home she purchased outside of Paris while Napoleon was off fighting the Egyptian Campaign.
Percier and Fontaine were largely responsible for the romantic, classicism-tinged look of the Directoire Style, and at Malmaison they let loose their fantasies about adventure, conquest and luxe-life-on-the-go. Multiple rooms were swathed in textiles and swags to affect the look and feel of a tent, and at one entrance the pair constructed a metal vestibule that approximated a trim battlefield structure.
Soon after, in the 1820s, prominent German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel executed his own riff on the tented room with a sublime spin on stripes at the Prussian royal residence Charlottenhof Villa.
Ever since, tented rooms have been an enduring part of decoration. From Valentino and Tony Duquette to Bruce Budd and Mallory Mathison, designers and decorators have turned to the idiom to create spaces that feel enveloping, transporting and even magical.
At Iksel, the genius London-based design house known for their evocative multi-paneled scenic murals, they’ve taken the notion of tented rooms to a whole new level. Combining the fancifulness of tented rooms, the artistry of painted murals and the charm of trompe l’oeil, Iksel have dreamed up such wallpaper patterns as Kubilai’s Tent, Ottoman Tent Mehmet and Directoire Curtain. The motifs are indispensable additions to one of decorating’s most-loved traditions, and give designers a whole new vocabulary for expressing their tented-room love.